Tag Archives: facebook

Sorry. What were you saying? I was having a moment with this thing in my hand.

Hi. How’s it going? It’s been a while. How are you? How are the wife and kids, and mistresses? Good? Great. Well enough of the small talk.
When I have a busy day, I get about three twenty minute periods between the madnesses to relax. When I first started, my coworkers and I would pass the time by joking, talking, or even watching a movie. These days that doesn’t happen. The breaks are still there, but the interaction isn’t. It’s not that the people are jerks or we hate each other. It’s the iPhone, well smart phones in general.
In a room of six people who get along pretty well, not one person is looking at anything that isn’t a tiny LCD screen. Six people who I know for a fact can pay attention, listen to what others are saying, formulate a thoughtful and intelligent response, and deliver it in a meaningful way, interspersed with witty banter and cutting sarcasm. Yet we no longer converse. The art of conversation has been bludgeoned by shiny little trinkets. Technology has changed the way we interact on a fundamental level, and it’s doing it quickly.
When I was in school, texting was done with pen and paper and passed from person to person until it reached it’s target. The only phone in the room was wired and bolted to a wall. Wireless communication consisted of real time vibrations in the air leaving the teachers mouth, traveling at the speed of sound to interact in real time with our ears. Before you accuse me of being too old to grasp the new tech, I just turned 33. However, my parents can relate with me because they had the same experience. My children will not have a land line, will not pass easily intercepted paper notes, or even understand how such primitive technology put us the moon. Which is where I hope they’ll be living.
Go to any restaurant and look for a couple. Now see how much time goes by before one of them goes for the phone. I’ll bet less than five minutes. Technology has brought the world closer by separating the individuals. We have unprecedented access to information, analysis, and commentary. What’s left to talk about?
E-books (we know my thoughts on those), laptops, and smart phones allow us to bring the things we use to pass our time alone along with us. Farmville, text messages, twitter updates, they all present urgent distractions from the most basic of human pass times. Interaction with other humans. We’re social creatures, and being with other humans is one of those things we just have to do. These days though, that physical proximity has been replace by our digital selves.
Our online identities are just as important to us as our social ones. We have near unlimited access to the lives of others. We know more about them at a glance of their profile page than with five minutes of conversation, and same is true of us. We don’t talk, we browse. We check the stats updates of people across town, across the country, across the world, while the person sitting across from you (whom you’re probably online friends with) is updating their status.
So I blame smart phones. They brought all of this crap out of the house and put it in the palm of our hands. Now, I’m not anti-technology, but I do miss talking with my friends. This change in our daily interactions took less than two years to become the norm. That’s how fast our world is changing.


Digital etiquet

In these days of everyone throwing all of their business on the web for the whole world to see, I begin to wonder about the rules of engagement. I’m not talking about hackers or identity thieves, but about the analog version of human interaction. Real face to face conversation with living humans your reach out and touch, and how our digital lives relate to our personal interactions. I ponder this because I don’t believe the web has been totally integrated into our concepts of personal space.
I’m a web savvy suburbanite, so of course I have a facebook page and two twitter accounts. The facebook page is for my family and far flung friends. I keep the friends list small and limited to people I actually know, and post stuff I would probably tell them over the phone (which I do far too infrequently these days). Basically, I manage my online interactions in the same way I manage my personal interactions. They’re the same thing to me.
For some though, it’s harder to be as selective online. If your facebook friends have 300 friends, surely you should have 300 friends as well. Accepting friend requests from people you hardly know is just the way it’s done. It’s awkward to deny a co-workers friend request and then see them everyday. Still, is it any less awkward when that new co-worker you just meet yesterday but accepted the night before comments on that Halloween party picture in your gallery? You know the one. Yeah… that one.
Where do we draw the line? How well should you know someone before you let them into your digital domain? When is it acceptable to discuss something you saw online (but weren’t a part of) with someone in person? Maybe that co-worker just wanted to feel like they belonged. Maybe they wanted to get to know the group better. How do we prevent awkward real world moments from being caused by digital openness?
Personally, I just post stuff I wouldn’t mind my mother seeing. She is a friend of mine on facebook after all. Are there pictures of me doing dumb things out there? You bet. Do I put them up for the world to see? Absolutely not.
When I get to that awkward place where a co-worker asked me why I haven’t accepted their friend request, I tell them the truth. I view social networking as a way to keep in touch with people I care about, not keep up with work scuttlebutt when I’m at home. Then I spend the next few months frequently denying their vein attempts at friending me (some people just don’t get it).
A few of my co-workers have gone so far as to delete their pages or all of their work friends. I wasn’t hurt or angry that they didn’t want to be my online friend anymore. My real life friendships with them certainly haven’t been impacted by it. Now when I say “What’s up”, I genuinely have no clue and the resulting conversation doesn’t seem redundant.
I’ve always advocated moderation in the online environment. I believe a person should cultivate a few strong relationships rather than many acquaintances. Social networking is a great tool for keeping in touch, but instant access to a relative stranger’s personal life is a bit much. On an unrelated note, follow me on Twitter @faultcode113.